Timely tech sale could top $100m

Timely co-founder and chief executive Ryan Baker is proud of the company’s success. PHOTO: TIMELY
Timely co-founder and chief executive Ryan Baker is proud of the company’s success. PHOTO: TIMELY
A Dunedin tech company which has been sold in a deal that could be worth more than $100million was last year facing a "scary" future as Covid-19 hit its bottom line.

Timely produces a cloud-based appointment management system for businesses requiring scheduling of their staff and services, particularly in the beauty and wellness industry.

All 125 jobs, comprising 90 in New Zealand, 20 in Australia and 15 in the United Kingdom, would be retained by EverCommerce, which is based in Denver, United States.

Job stability would help the company to "scale bigger and move faster" so there would be opportunities for both existing staff and new people to join the company, Timely co-founder and chief executive Ryan Baker, whose title will change to president, said.

A statement from the two companies said completion of the transaction was awaiting customary regulatory approvals, which suggested it was over the Overseas Investment Office's $100million threshold.

Mr Baker declined to comment on the price, other than saying it "reflected the amazing company and growth trajectory that it’s on".

"It’s a great outcome for all of the existing shareholders ...

"We have an employee equity scheme in place, meaning that nearly all of the current staff, and some former staff, are sharing in the proceeds from the acquisition."

Timely was founded in December 2011 by Andrew Schofield, Will Berger and Mr Baker.

Mr Baker and Mr Schofield were previously involved in BookIT, an online software provider for tourism operators which was sold to Trade Me in 2010.

BookIt was initially developed by Mr Schofield. Dunedin businessman Sir Ian Taylor later bought into it.

It was while working on BookIt that the men had small businesses asking if they could take appointments, and it sowed a seed.

They were later joined by Mr Berger, whom they met at Trade Me, and the trio started building Timely.

Yesterday, Mr Baker said Sir Ian taught him and Mr Schofield a lot about how to think bigger, build an amazing team and the importance of culture.

"Ian is an absolute visionary and working with him was life-changing ...

"We were lucky to be able to take what we learned from both Ian and from the amazing people behind Trade Me and use that as the foundation for Timely."

Timely made the 2016 Deloitte Technology Fast 500 Asia-Pacific Index, coming 71st out of 500, and it was also joint winner of the emerging business category at the New Zealand International Business Awards.

The following year, it was named emerging company of the year in the NZ Hi-Tech Awards.

It has always operated in a slightly unorthodox fashion.

Suits and ties, structured hours of work and a conventional office space did not fit its ethos.

Asked about the effect of Covid-19, Mr Baker acknowledged it was "scary".

"All of our customers are in industries like beauty and wellness that were closed down from Covid.

"They also pay us month-to-month so we were bracing for our revenue to drop significantly and cutting costs to avoid job losses.

"The wage subsidy was a great help [Timely claimed $458,294.40] and allowed us to at least delay any layoffs.

"It was hard to predict what was going to happen, and it turns out we had almost the opposite impact," he said.

While salons were closed, they used the time to learn how to use more of the Timely software. Businesses that had not gone digital used lockdown to find and learn new systems.

"Our team ... worked tirelessly to help the industry to prepare to reopen and, in the end, our sales doubled and we grew our team from 85 to 125 people.

"Even though our revenue did drop significantly, it was only for a short time and we’re now in the process of voluntarily repaying the wage subsidy."

The company now served more than 50,000 service professionals in 90 countries, who used the platform to book more than 30 million appointments a year.

Mr Baker and his co-founders were "really proud" of the start they had given Timely. It was on a path to be the category leader globally for beauty and wellness software.

When he met EverCommerce chief executive Eric Remer, it was clear to both the fit and timing was perfect for Timely to go from founder-owned to backed by a $2billion-plus platform with 200 additional people ready to help the company make that next step, he said.

The proudest part for Mr Baker and his wife Kirstin, who is general manager, was building the team, working in the business together full-time and raising four sons in Dunedin along the way.

sally.rae@odt.co.nz

 

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